Sunday, February 24, 2013

The progress in the basement continues.  Bead board half way.
 The bathroom.  Remember the paneling?  Gone!
 We'll retexture the stairway too, but the railing will stay.  I love the railing!!
The boy's room.  This was the "deer" wall.  You remember, the one they used to throw knives at.

The biggest downside is that when Allison comes to visit she has to sleep on the couch upstairs instead of by the fire downstairs.

I'll keep posting pictures of the progress, but that's it for now.  My talk from last week is posted next, so you can stop reading if you want to.

High Council Talk – Rexburg East Stake - Rexburg 6th Ward                                February 17, 2013
“The Need for a Living Prophet”

In this ward, there are 436 members.  Of that number, there are 57 young men and women between the ages of 12 and 19.  I’d like to address my remarks to them and invite the rest of you to listen in.

My topic today addresses the question: “Why do we need a living prophet?”
President Hugh B. Brown (1883–1975)  described a conversation he had with a member of the British House of Commons and former justice of the Supreme Court of England, who was not a member of the Church, about the need for living prophets and the revelation they receive:  Quote:  

 “[I said,] ‘I am submitting to you in all seriousness that it was standard procedure in Bible times for God to talk to men.’“[He responded,] ‘I think I will admit that, but it stopped shortly after the first century of the Christian era.’“‘Why do you think it stopped?’“‘I can’t say.’“‘You think that God hasn’t spoken since then?’“‘Not to my knowledge.’ “‘May I suggest some possible reasons why he has not spoken. 

Perhaps it is because he cannot. He has lost the power.’ “He said, ‘Of course that would be blasphemous.’

 “‘Well, then, if you don’t accept that, perhaps he doesn’t speak to men because he doesn’t love us anymore. He is no longer interested in the affairs of men.’ “‘No,’ he said, ‘God loves all men, and he is no respecter of persons.’ 

“‘Well, . . . then the only other possible answer as I see it is that we don’t need him. We have made such rapid strides in education and science that we don’t need God anymore.’ 

“And then he said, and his voice trembled as he thought of impending war [World War II], ‘Mr. Brown, there never was a time in the history of the world when the voice of God was needed as it is needed now. 

Perhaps you can tell me why he doesn’t speak.’ “My answer was, ‘He does speak, he has spoken; but men need faith to hear him.’ . . . . 

“The judge sat and listened . . . and at the end of the interview he said, ‘Mr. Brown, I wonder if your people appreciate the import of your message. Do you?’ He said, ‘If what you have told me is true, it is the greatest message that has come to this earth since the angels announced the birth of Christ’” End Quote.

(in Conference Report, Oct. 1967, 118, 120; emphasis added; see also The Profi le of a Prophet, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Oct. 4, 1955], 4–5, 8; or “The Profi le of a Prophet,” Ensign, June
2006, 36–37, 39).

In the Old Testament Amos says, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). 
We need living prophets for two reasons:

1.     First, because we are the same as past and future generations. We, like them, need to be taught the gospel.  We need someone with authority to remind us in good times and in bad, that there is great hope through our Heavenly Father’s plan and the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.

2.     Second, because we are different from past and future generations and need specific divine guidance for our own times and circumstances.

There are many in the world who are living wonderful lives of charity and service who don’t know that there are living prophets on the earth.  They will absolutely be blessed.  But, it is a blessing for us to be among the few who know that there are living prophets to lead and guide us today.  We need to claim this blessing.

My family likes to sit at the kitchen table and play word games like Boggle and Speed Scrabble.  My wife and children might tell you that from time to time, I cheat, but this is usually not true.  In reality I’m just not a very good speller.  

In Matthew, the Savior talks about profitable and unprofitable servants.  Spelled p-r-o-F-I-t-a-b-l-e.  (Matthew 25:30).  My talk today is about “Being Prophetable servants” spelled p-r-o-P-h-E-t-a-b-l-e .

Anybody who has ever coached a sport, played a sport, or watched a sport knows that coaching is important.  They also know that a person, who has excellent skills but is not coachable, will not get much playing time.  In fact, they may not even make the team.  Many players with super skills have been suspended from important games because they have not been coachable.  On the other hand, players with lesser skills have surpassed their natural potential and become “winners” because they were coachable.

It’s hard to imagine a championship team without a champion caliber coach.  

Good coaches can see things the players often can’t see, they have experiences the players often haven’t had, and they can make choices and decisions the players often wouldn’t make.  They also know the opposing team, or the enemy, and the best offense and defense to maximize results against them.    

As sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, we also need to be coachable.  No matter our skill level, if we are not coachable we will not reach our unlimited potential, and we will be frustrated and disappointed.  

The Lord has several ways to communicate with us when He wants to coach us.  Prayer, scriptures, angels, parents, etc.  One of those ways is through living prophets.  I want to suggest that being coachable in sports is like being prophetable in life. 

When I was on my mission in Kobe Japan, on June 9th, 1978, the announcement was made that every worthy man could receive the priesthood.  This was interpreted by many, including me, to mean the blacks could receive the priesthood.  It was a big change and kind of a bombshell to some.  

Before this announcement, I had a challenge reconciling to myself why some worthy men could not receive the priesthood.  It didn’t make sense to me.  Didn’t God love everyone equally?  And, if so, why the restrictions?  I didn’t get it.  

 But then, when the announcement was made that every worthy male could receive the priesthood I had a challenge with that too.  Why would the church change its stand?  Was it because it was socially or politically the right thing to do?  Why would God change His stance on something He had been so solid on for so many years?  I couldn’t explain it, and again, I didn’t get it.  

As I’ve reflected on this, I’ve come to realize that my wrestle wasn’t really with the doctrine of the blacks being able to receive the priesthood or not.  It was on the doctrine of was there really a living prophet or not, and did God and our Savior really speak through him?

Some of us today might have similar types of challenges with different questions regarding the policies of the church or doctrines of the gospel.  We might be asking the question, why? about something.  And, our answer might be:  “I don’t know.  I don’t get it.”  But we need to always remember the real question which is, “Is there really a living prophet on the earth who speaks for our Savior Jesus Christ?”  

Once we have that answer, our faith to follow, even things we don’t yet understand, is increased and encouraged.  We become “prophetable”.  In other words, able to follow the prophet.

After a lot of time, thinking, praying, and fasting I came to the conclusion that we do have living prophets on the earth, and that conclusion was confirmed to me by the Holy Ghost.  I became prophetable. 

I’m now very grateful for my deep rooted testimony of living prophets.  To realize that Heavenly Father communicates directly through his chosen prophets today, just like He did in ancient times,  is evidence of His magnificent love for me and for each of you.

In an 1838 speech delivered to the Harvard Divinity School in Boston, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The assumption that the age of inspiration is past, that the Bible is closed, indicates with sufficient clearness the falsehood of our theology.  It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaks, not spake .”  

Little did he know that 8 years earlier in upstate New York, God had restored the gospel to the earth through a modern prophet, Joseph Smith, so that we could teach and live in the present.

It’s hard to imagine a championship team with the attitude of “we had a great coach ten years ago, so we don’t need one now”.  That’s silly.  A good team always needs a good coach, and championship players always need to be coachable.  Just as current teams need current coaches because the game is always changing.  We need current prophets. 

The point is that times change.  It would have been silly for Moses to give the people, of his time, divine, inspired guidance about what to avoid on the internet, just as it would be silly for today’s prophets to give us guidance about how to flee Egypt.  Different times and situations call for different guidance and direction.

I’m grateful for the spiritual insights and gospel truths the prophet, Thomas S. Monson, teaches about our relationship to Heavenly Father, the Savior, and the Holy Ghost; and how we ought to live to be happy.  Just like the ancient prophets taught.  It’s good to know God’s plan of happiness including the creation, agency, the fall of man, and the atonement. 

I also appreciate divine revelation and prophetic guidance about practical things that are specific to our day like debt, education, charity, and family matters. 
As any primary child can tell you “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” (9th article of faith)

Some of us sometimes think don’t feel the need to listen or follow.  We want to live life on our own terms, and don’t think anybody has the right or the authority to tell us how to live our lives.

I had a cousin who was a pretty good basketball player and was on his high school basketball team.  He didn’t really like his coach because he didn’t think he was getting the playing time he deserved, and he thought the coach was leading the whole team astray.  

Finally, at one game during a time out, he asked the coach if he could go in.  The coach said no.  So, to make a point, after the time out huddle when his team mates ran back onto the court, my cousin ran onto the court with them.  But he didn’t stop on the court.  He just kept running across the court and into the locker room where he changed into his street clothes.  

Then, he ran back out across the court in the middle of the game and into the stands to sit with some friends.  He figured if he was just going to be watching the game from the bench he might as well be sitting in the stands with his friends.  He thought the coach was out of touch and didn’t know what he was doing.  That was his last game, but not the coaches’ last game. 

Coaches are hired and fired by someone who has the authority to hire and fire them, not by a dissatisfied player who quits.  I’ve watched enough “Sport Center” and half time shows on TV, and listened to enough fans in the bleachers through the years to know that not everybody agrees with or understands why the coach is doing what he’s doing.  In fact, coaches get a lot of unsolicited advice.  The bottom line however, is that until they are fired, the coaches are still the ones with the authority to coach.  

If they are really bad, then they can be fired and a new coach hired by those who have the authority to do that.

In a way, it’s the same with prophets.  They are called by God and have the authority to serve as long as Heavenly Father wants them to.    

The 5th article of faith states that “We believe a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.” 
And, as you know, Wilford Woodruff the 4th president and prophet of the modern church said, “. . . the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so he will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212–13; see also Official Declaration 1).

I am not advocating blind faith.  We need to confirm things for ourselves.  But like Nephi, we should follow the prophet while we seek confirmation.
When Lehi had his vision to leave Jerusalem, Nephi followed his father (the prophet), but he also sought to understand for himself, the same thing his father understood.  When Lehi had the dream of the tree of life, Nephi asked to understand and received his own vision and understanding.  We likewise should seek to understand the things the prophets council us.

Good communication takes good listeners.  The prophets can speak, but if we don’t listen and obey, then it’s just like they don’t exist.  

In fact, this is what happened during the great apostasy, people stopped listening and they killed the prophets, so there were no prophets and the gospel got a little messed up.  That’s what required the restoration of the gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith. 
Since the restoration, we have always had living prophets on the earth. I hope we always choose to listen when they speak.

Hymn 22 “We Listen to a Prophet’s Voice” says:  (verses 1&3)

“We listen to a prophet’s voice and hear the Savior too.
With love he bids us do the work the Lord would have us do.
The Savior calls his chosen seer to preach the word of God,
That men might learn to find the path marked by the iron rod.

Hosanna! Let our praise ascend unto the Savior’s throne;
Rejoice! The prophet has confirmed that by (God) we are known.
Attend, ye earth! The prophet speaks; come listen and obey.
He is the man who holds the keys of priesthood power today.”

Heavenly Father has perfect love, or charity, for each of us.  One of the greatest evidences of that love is the fact that He has given us modern prophets to help us navigate our way through life to find the greatest happiness.  I testify that living prophets are a marvelous manifestation of our Heavenly Father’s love for us. 

I’d like to close with a challenge for all of us.  Today, no matter what our attitude is about living prophets, I offer the challenge that, through fasting and praying AND listening and obeying, we strive to gain, renew, or strengthen our testimonies of the need for living prophets.  

 In hopes that we might all become more prophetable . . .  and. . .  more profitable servants.


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